Valentine's Day blooms in Devon and Cornwall hit by cold and ice
Snow and ice has put paid to extensive floral displays at many heritage gardens this Valentine's Day.
Gardeners at 24 National Trust properties across the South West took part in the annual count for February 14 which first started in Devon and Cornwall in 2006.
While the Westcountry is usually the furthest advanced with early spring blooms, numbers have dropped significantly at several gardens because of the cold.
Ian Wright, the National Trust's gardens consultant, said: "It's the first time since the survey began that some of our gardeners have been out counting flowers in the snow. "Temperatures of near freezing didn't put off our hardy gardeners as they set about the annual flower count.
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"In the far West of Cornwall, the magnolias have started to deliver their spring spectacular, whereas at Hidcote in Gloucestershire, few flowers could be seen due to a covering of snow. However we are greatly encouraged that this year there are already some great snowdrop shows such as at Arlington Court and Saltram in Devon.
"Although there were 50% less flowers counted in Cornwall compared with 1,032 in 2012, there were still a few surprises such as an aloe which is a succulent plant in flower on St Michael's Mount in Cornwall and in Devon, at Coleton Fishacre, a gazania from South Africa.
"On the evidence of our count, I think magnolias and rhododendrons may well be the big success stories this spring due in part to the wet autumn, with fantastic displays expected at Lanhydrock, Trelissick, Trengwainton and Killerton in the coming weeks."
This year 1,178 plants were recorded in 16 gardens in Devon and Cornwall compared to 1,745 in 17 gardens in 2012. In 2008, a total of 3,335 plants in bloom were recorded, marking the earliest spring so far recorded.